Moderator pays tribute to "vital" NHS as it turns 72

The Moderator of the General Assembly has paid tribute to healthcare staff as the NHS prepares to mark its 72nd anniversary tomorrow.

Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair is encouraging people to take part in the special, one-off clap for carers event at 5pm to celebrate the milestone.

"The NHS is a vital part of our social fabric," said the minister of St Andrew's Parish Church in Arbroath, Angus.

Martin Fair
"The NHS is a vital part of our social fabric." Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair

"It is remarkable that a society would embark on a mission to offer health, healing and care to every citizen at the point of need.

"This is an act of collective kindness, generosity and solidarity.

"It is a national endeavour in loving our neighbour, and in 2020 we have seen the institution and its people respond to unprecedented challenges."

Spiritual support

Funded by the taxpayer, the NHS was launched by Aneurin Bevan MP, Minister of Health, in Manchester, England on the 5th of July, 1948.

It brought hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists under one umbrella and since then has transformed the health and wellbeing of the nation.

This year has arguably been the most challenging in its history as it has responded to the global COVID-19 pandemic and delivered services under lockdown restrictions.

At the heart of supporting patients, relatives and staff in hospitals, clinics and hospices across Scotland are Healthcare Chaplains who count Kirk ministers and deacons among their numbers.

Mark Evans
Mark Evans DCS

Deacon Mark Evans DCS, head of Spiritual Care for NHS Fife, described the National Health Service as an "amazing" resource.

"As a society we are so lucky to have such a comprehensive healthcare service," said the President of the Deaconate.

"Despite the challenges, the standard of care, research and treatment is world beating and we take it for granted at our peril."

Mr Evans, who first started work for the NHS 30 years ago as a student nurse, said Healthcare Chaplains, who provide pastoral and spiritual support, play a unique role and are valued and appreciated by all whom they serve.

"We create a safe space for patients, relatives and staff, coming alongside them to listen as they express their hopes, dreams, fears and concerns," he explained.

"The last three months have been very busy and challenging and in Fife we have seen a 100% increase in referrals just from staff.

"Simply asking people, from domestics to consultants, ‘how are you?' makes a huge difference.

"Our role is about relationships and we do not provide answers or a prescription, we are impartial and come with empty hands and an open heart."